Lewis Hamilton was languishing down in 10th place as a result of not completing a clear lap on supersoft tires and setting his fastest time on the softs. On one occasion, both Sebastian Vettel - fifth quickest overall - and Felipe Massa went straight on, with the Williams driver having to reverse first before the Ferrari could attempt to rejoin the circuit.
The now-retired Nico Rosberg won a year ago and joined on the podium by Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez after his then teammate, Lewis Hamilton, started the race from tenth, before finishing in fourth. Despite running this compound, Verstappen was running 3rd and Ricciardo 6th as the session approached its halfway point.
Neither did, with Vettel half a second slower than Verstappen, and Hamilton one second off the pace.More news: GOP Health Bill: Senate Leader Faces Battle for Support
That sliding, allied to the fact that there were so many incidents, meant few got the consistent laps they needed to get Pirelli's tyres in to their narrow temperature operating windows. The two Saubers moved off the very bottom of the timesheets as Romain Grosjean struggled to 20th in the second Haas. He launched his vehicle over the apex kerb at Turn 8 in the pursuit of a tenth of a second but was unable to get the auto back under control before making contact with the barriers on the inside of Turn 9.
That came just before Perez brought out the red flags with just under 20 minutes of the session remaining, wrecking the right hand side of his Force India at the ultra-tight castle section after having several bites of turning into the auto, and most likely jeopardizing his running in a few hours' time. Amazingly, Sergio Perez soon joined them around 10 minutes into the session after a stellar rebuild effort from his mechanics. Kimi Raikkonen was ninth after mirroring teammate Vettel's runplan of remaining on the soft tyre throughout. Again this brought out the red flags and the session was suspended while the stricken Renault was towed away.
The session was heavily disjointed as all the drivers struggled for grip on low-fuel runs and yellow flags were regularly deployed as cars ended up in run-off zones. This really is getting ridiculous now, and if you ask me, enough is enough, and Honda need to go!
But Verstappen hit a barrier late on and while escaping unharmed, his vehicle suffered some damage.